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This year for the holidays, we decided to eschew big gifts and take a big family trip to New York City instead. At our monthly family meeting before the holidays, we had talked about our expectations. We asked the kids what they remembered from last year, what their favorite presents had been, etc. Pretty quickly, we realized that their memories had more to do with the Christmas stories we read by the fire than the gifts they had received. We took a family vote and decided that taking a trip would be much preferred to a bevy of forgettable gifts under the tree. New York City won the popular vote as the destination for our holiday vacation!
The kids were tasked with researching places or experiences they wanted to have and we set off to NYC with a loose itinerary. After years of blended family travel, we have learned that flexibility and spontaneity are always key to any of our vacation experiences. There are bound to be unexpected hurdles (low blood sugars at exactly the wrong time), and we wanted to make sure we left plenty of time on the itinerary to follow the kids’ interests.
Museums, a show, restaurants, shopping, landmarks, and tourist attractions were just a few of the things we were able pack into our 5 day NYC trip.
I’ve compiled a list of our favorite New York City experiences along with some helpful links to help you plan your New York City family vacation!
1. Take a train in the city. Some say it isn’t really a New York experience if you don’t take the subway. I agree! Take advantage of the 472 stations serving 27 subway lines the the city offers to get to your destinations. Free subway maps are available at the subway stations. The kids had so much fun people watching and running through the stations to catch our trains.
2. Take in a Broadway or Off-Broadway show. Don’t miss a chance to see first rate theatre in the Big Apple. There are so many options for family-friendly shows and the experiences are unforgettable. We have a group of Harry Potter fans in the bunch, so we took in Puffs, a Potter-inspired comedy, from the front row at the New World Stages. For discount tickets to NYC shows, visit one of the TKTS booth locations at Times Square, South Street Seaport or Lincoln Center.
3. Visit Times Square. For kids to truly understand why NYC is called the City That Never Sleeps, take a walk through magical Times Square in the evening. The kids were enthralled by all of the screens, the lights and the activity surrounding the area. They were even able to see themselves displayed on one of the giant screens thanks to a street camera. Since we visited during the holidays, they wrote wishes on strips of confetti that were released on New Year’s Eve as the ball dropped.
4. Tour the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Sitting within the footprints of the Twin Towers are the 911 Memorial’s twin reflecting pools which are nearly an acre in size. They feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America and the names of every person who died are inscribed around the perimeter. To say that this memorial invokes powerful emotions is an understatement. Don’t miss the “Survivor Tree” which endured the terror attacks.